Gearbox has responded to voice actor Troy Baker’s claim that the studio wouldn’t hire union voice actors for Borderlands 3.
“Troy is an exceptional talent and we were disappointed that he declined to partner on Borderlands 3 after being offered the part,” reads a statement from Gearbox. “We wish him the best and hope he knows the offer to collaborate with him still stands. Gearbox is a Texas company and is bound by Texas law – which means that a person cannot be denied employment because of membership or non-membership in a labour union or other labour organisation.”
There’s a couple of important things to note about that statement. First off, they don’t outry deny that Troy Baker turned down the role because Gearbox wouldn’t hire union voice actors. They also don’t really try to argue that they actively hire union voice actors. Second, a statement from the SAG-AFTRA seemingly suggests that Gearbox wouldn’t sign a deal to unionize the Borderlands 3 voice acting team.
“We applaud any member who stands up for workplace fairness and the integrity of their creative work,” reads a statement from the SAG-AFTRA released to Kotaku. “The misguided decision by Gearbox to deny their performers the opportunity to have fair union wages, a safe workplace and the possibility of health care coverage for their families, is unfortunate. We attempted to sign Gearbox to a union agreement. They refused and disengaged from those talks.”
For those who don’t know, this controversy began when Troy Baker stated that his decision to not appear in Borderlands 3 was largely based on Gearbox’s union hiring policies.
“No, it was simply a matter of they wouldn’t go union,” says Baker in an interview with VG247 “I can’t do a non-union gig. And without getting too deep into the weeds of that, we had long conversations about this.”
For those who don’t know, Baker previously voiced the character Rhys in Tales from the Borderlands. There was a bit of drama a few months back when it was revealed that Baker wouldn’t be reprising his role as Rhys in Borderlands 3 despite the fact that the character was set to return to the franchise in some form or fashion.
At the time, Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford suggested that the reason why Baker didn’t appear in the game was that Baker turned down the role. Baker claimed at the time that wasn’t necessarily the truth, and Pitchford later suggested that he’d only heard that Baker turned down the role.
The combined statements from these three parties seemingly suggest that, at the very least, there were not union voice actors working on Borderlands 3 and that Gearbox was not willing to sign a union agreement for the game. Gearbox claims they can not discriminate against hiring an actor over their union affiliation, but it’s very hard to prove whether or not they wouldn’t hire someone for that reason in private and publically declare another reason for their decision.
Of course, Borderlands 3 has been no stranger to controversy. Aside from the game’s voice actor woes and sending private investigators to people’s houses, there were also reports of Pitchford being abusive towards former co-workers. Considering that we found Borderlands 3 to be a pretty good game that honestly may have been released a few years too late, it will be interesting to see whether or not the title’s legacy is ultimately defined by all of this drama.